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November 26, 2003

Texas goes to Buckingham

Love it!

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November 20, 2003

Connie Black's Book Signing


ME: [from the audience at Indigo book-signing] Hey big spender! Big-spender! What's the matter big-spender?! Need some aspirin? You look like shit!

CB: Fuck you you obstreperous little picayune!

ME: Eeeeewww, big words for an old man-- how's about I shove 'em where the sun don't shine?

CB: You mean inside that precious little cunt of yours?

ME: Excuse me?

CB: Oh, I'm sorry young man, I'm unaccustomed to conferring with garden variety half-wits who can't match my palaver.

ME: Ow, Conrad - You're hurting me!

CB: And you're in my way.

ME: Hey-- Ow!!!-- my knee!

CB: Take him out back and show the little snot what U.C.C. stands for.

ME: Wait a second here - Let go--!

CB: I'll be there momentarily.

VINNY: Sure thing boss.

CB: My bullwhip's in the limo.

ME: [barely audible yelping] No! Oh God no!@

CB: Next!

Fan: That kid had some nerve!

CB: You needn't fret, he's in good hands. Now, back to business - how shall I make out your inscription, kind sir?

FAN: Could you make it out to my friend Dickie Burnbaum, please? He's a huge fan of Roosevelt's, and an even bigger fan of yours!

CB: Well, that's nice to hear.

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November 19, 2003

In The Cut

This characterless, platitudinous, and lamely tame attempt at sexual thrillerdom is what you expect from a movie that boasts little more than the sight of Meg Ryan's breasts. It's significantly less than what one hopes for from the mind behind "Passionless Moments", and "An Angel At My Table", even after that mind has produced crap like "Holy Smoke".

Campion's "I-don't-care-about-plot-anymore, my-films-win-Oscars" attitude conveys palpable contempt for her chosen genre, and she seems well-intent on putting her audience to sleep before they figure who the killer is. It's a strategy Hitchcock might have found intriguing were he alive today, coping with dementia.

Hint: If you can stay awake, suspect the only character not blatantly painted as a suspect. The pay-off for this is in the phrase "called it," which will echo merrily about your mind, providing scant compensation for the misspent tenner, and the never-to-be-returned 90 minutes it took to endure so much rubbish.

As 'sexual-thriller' on Hollywood bell-curve: 8.
As Meg Ryan vehicle: 7
As cinema: .00324581.

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November 18, 2003

Remind Us

This is pretty solid if you can get through.

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15 second movies.

Some of these are kind'a funny.

Don't bother trying to vote.

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November 14, 2003

Irreversible Reversed

I reviewed the first third of this film a while back, and I've been meaning to change my tune. Something happened: 1) I made it to the end. 2) I made it to the end a second time. 3) I found the Charles Bronson in me: No matter how misdirected the anger, or obvious a ploy for controversy, the brutality makes as much sense as brutality should, and I mean this as the highest form of praise. In fact, I now find myself wishing certain movies were more Irreversible-esque.

Rent this movie at once!

[Bring a barf bag. If you're weak in the stomach, make it two.]

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November 11, 2003

4 mini-reviews for Matrix Trilogy

Matric Trilogy Review #1

The Matrix was a mindless action movie that totally changed the style of action movies, and made black leather with blue lights and sunglasses cool. The second film didn't offer anything new, and lacked the originality of its predecessor. In a sense, the argument was made, it detracted from the mystique of the original. The third installment I haven't seen yet, so I suppose this can't accurately be called a mini-review of the trilogy. Sorry if this disappoints.

Matric Trilogy Review #2

The first Matrix movie burst onto the scene and blew away all competition. The Rage Against the Machine ending solidified The Wackowski Brothers as all the Rage. The idea resonated with its time - how can we wake from our zombie state and rise up against the sinister powers-that-be? The second review, er, film, felt redundant, belabored, and boring. I don't know how it could have felt more boring, in fact. What have we established with the first one? That humanity will win out, of course. That our protagonist has become invinsible. And what do we learn from the second? That our filmmakers are now making an over long-sequel that will end with a To-Be-Continued credit, and be overly long, and redundant? So the question becomes, Mr. Anderson, do we need to see Revolutions knowing it will be exactly like the More Of The Same we've just had? I don't think so. So I haven't. I'm sorry. I just have a hunch I know where it's going.

Matric Trilogy Review #3

I haven't seen Revolutions, but I feel confident dismissing it due to the direction the series was headed after #2. It's just, see, nothing new or exciting feels like it's about to take place. It's all special effects, which you can get also by closing your eyes and imagining Matrix 3 commercials-- it's way cheaper. The first one was good fun. The point was made with the first one! Number 2 - who are we kidding? - it was already redundant. Maybe the third one I'll catch on tv in a few months or something. What are you doing? Do you really need to keep reading this? Are you actually wondering where I'm going with this?! I'm about to apologize see - because I'm not actually qualified to write about the trilogy. So I'm so sorry, ok?

Matric Trilogy Review #4

Oh, I was just kidding about "4". You don't need "4". Shit, you barely needed a "2". But I've determined if there was sequel-money in this, I could go on.

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November 10, 2003

Trojan Games

Quite funny stuff under the "video highlights" section here.

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They Found Nemo!


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November 09, 2003


In your typical high-school film, any-and-all signs of mundane hallway walking won't make the cut. The bell will ring, the teacher will speak of homework, some snippet of exposition will happen upon entering the hall, then it's CUT TO: THE PEACH PIT, and we're out. Through the use of the long, slow, corridor sequences, it's established Elephant is about that in-between-time that so often goes unnoticed. Or at least, that it will try to be.


The cast look and talk like real kids, as everyone has said, but they also occasionally look quite incapable of disguising their glee over having landed a part in a Gus Van Sant film. For the duration of one early scene where a punk rock couple are greeted by a blooming photographer, I felt I was watching reality-tv-show acting, or worse: ill-fated acting-workshop 'improvisation' that should have been re-cast or nixed.

But as it progressed, the performances got better. It wasn't until the end, when that sense of desperate mad-panic didn't materialize, that I was sure amateur acting was indeed an issue.

In the between time, the problem is structural. It's too bad we know what the character's don't - how their day will end - for it causes everything up to the climax to feel like an open attempt at decoding the power dynamic of a modern American highschool. Which is ok, but it's more assuming than Van Sant's better work.

Having said that, there's solid stuff: up close on kid's expressions in social studies class. The body language of a change-room, where the bi-spectacled curly-headed girl avoids as much as possible the exposure of her own skin. The persistent fear of being ostracized from the girls who dine together in the corner of the cafeteria, and then wretch their guts out in the john. But it's like we're on a tour with what feels at times like a check list in hand, one that will illustrate repeatedly for us that mentally, these kids aren't equipped to deal with the hormonal fire within. Again, fine. But it becomes depressingly cliched when our killers are gun-obsessed, hooked on shoot-em up games, Hitler worshipping, and in the shower together before going on their killing spree. It feels more like authorial decision-making that flatters us into perfect understanding than it does anything real. The two never transcend their one dimension, there simply isn't enough time for them to.

The braver, more difficult film to realize might have forgone the omnipotent snap shot of everyone in Breakfast Club Portland, 2003, and honed in more keenly on what led two 11th grade loners to become killers. If we identified with them throughout the events that precipitated their meltdown we might care more. But at 81 minutes, Elephant is at least concise. As Ms and Mr Popularity are cornered in the meat locker, the point is driven home as bluntly as a director could hope, and it works. If only the terror was more palpable, but I've said that.

Reading reviews, everyone agrees Elephant "doesn't spell things out", but it does. If anything, it's more an over-articulate statement than a series of interesting questions that might have actually provoked thought. Still, as the credits started rolling, the people behind me fell into argument. One film-school geek said it was the shit, another said he didn't understand how anyone could think it was the shit. They started raising their voices.

So I give it 7.2.

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November 08, 2003

End of The World

Kind'a funny.

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November 07, 2003

More Inspirational West Coas' Rock!

The Golden River


"The album is less a work of cognizant storytelling than a fever dream. Personal and cultural memory bleed together, as Mercer spins fractured images lifted straight from the pages of Grimm Brothers fairy tales and Homeric Epics. And yet, nothing about The Golden River seems contrived or gratuitously literary: its otherworldly sonic and lyric richness is matched at every turn by the striking immediacy of Mercer's wide-eyed delivery. The result is a record every bit as stunning and imaginative as it is memorable and affecting, and one of the most unique and interesting I've heard in ages."

Frog Eyes pulled in the bitchin' rating of "9.1" (!) over at Pitchfork, where this spot-on review originated... At last, something to take me offa that Destroyer kick I was on for like the last 6 years.

The Black Babies

"His simple songs-- typically two, maybe three chords, one acoustic guitar, and his shaky, freakish vocals layered on top-- have an archaic, almost primitive feel to them that's utterly otherwordly, and yet strangely, deeply American. Harry Smith would have heard treasure here, and Banhart's output shares a lot of ground with the Smithsonian Anthology of American Folk Music's creakiest selections. Plus, it sounds like it was recorded on an answering machine, engulfed in hiss and night sounds."

D was stunned last night to learn that I hadn't blogged this. I don't know where my head was. Devendra Banhart's the best thing I found all summer and it's still going strong on my computer in the middle of November. It's all about visitations from ghosts on nature walks in dream-land and stuff like that. It came my way due to the goodness of that Albatoast guy.

And Lastly:


Pictures of Dan Bejar, who finished what will undoubtedly be an inspirational album, and is now doing that thing where he doesn't release it for a few months, y'know, for fun. I post these because he looks cool.

Some of the other people in them look ok also.

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November 06, 2003


Qrime pays.

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November 05, 2003



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Dark Peanut fights Captain Chaos; Ronald, with shovel; Dark Peanut, respectively.

[Pics kindly provided by T.]

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20 Questions

Why did Attorney General John Ashcroft and some Pentagon officials cancel commercial-airline trips before Sept. 11?

On July 26, 2001 - 47 days before the Sept. 11 attacks - CBS News reported that Ashcroft was flying expensive charters rather than commercial flights because of a "threat assessment" by the FBI. CBS said, "Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term." Newsweek later reported that on Sept. 10, 2001, "a group of top Pentagon officials suddenly canceled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns."

Did either Ashcroft or the Pentagon have advance information about a 9/11-style attack and, if so, why wasn't this shared with the American public?

19 other pertinent unanswered questions are speculated about here.

This is old news, like the news that Iraq is paying 90 cents a gallon for fuel transported from Kuwait by Halliburton, when the average wholesale cost of gasoline in the Middle East is more like 71 cents anywhere else. At least I think I have that right. I read it like ten minutes ago, so I could possibly have had enough time to jumble it up. Anyway, I learned about all this and more through the lovely people at anybodybutbush, who appear to be having it going on, as they say.

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November 02, 2003



If you're about to turn 30 in a few months-- (and you are if you haven't already)-- I recommend checking out Youth.

It's a short book by a great writer about how hopes and dreams eventually lead you to a place where you have the maturity to disregard them as the childish little distractions they were. Then? Well, then you turn old and lonely - only with the constitution to deal with it! - miserable-ever-after in the knowledge you never could have been anything anyway.

And then you die.

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